By Sarah Maza
Who, precisely, have been the French bourgeoisie? not like the Anglo-Americans, who largely embraced middle-class beliefs and values, the French--even the main prosperous and conservative--have constantly rejected and maligned bourgeois values and id. during this new method of the outdated query of the bourgeoisie, Sarah Maza specializes in the an important interval prior to, in the course of, and after the French Revolution, and gives a provocative resolution: the French bourgeoisie hasn't ever existed. regardless of the big numbers of first rate middling town-dwellers, no team pointed out themselves as bourgeois. Drawing on political and financial idea and historical past, own and polemical writings, and works of fiction, Maza argues that the bourgeoisie was once by no means the social norm. actually, it functioned as a serious counter-norm, an imagined and perilous embodiment of materialism, self-interest, commercialism, and mass tradition, which outlined all that the French rejected. A problem to traditional knowledge approximately glossy French background, this e-book poses broader questions about the function of anti-bourgeois sentiment in French tradition, by means of suggesting parallels among the figures of the bourgeois, the Jew, and the yankee within the French social imaginary. it's a really good and well timed foray into our ideals and fantasies in regards to the social international and our definition of a social type. (20030801)
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Extra resources for The Myth of the French Bourgeoisie: An Essay on the Social Imaginary, 1750-1850
His pamphlet was reprinted several times, as was the most famous response to it by the chevalier d’Arcq, and dozens of other writers joined the fray. 42 Most of the response to Coyer was negative, often stridently so. For many people in the 1750s, noblesse commerçante was as much of an oxymoron as bourgeois gentilhomme—for much the same reasons. What Coyer presented as the pragmatic jettisoning of an outdated law was, his antagonists responded, an attack on the nation’s deepest social and political identity.
If anyone did, that concern was drowned out by the much louder and more intense debates about the nobility. What people argued about in the Age of Enlightenment was not the possible emergence of a new elite, but the origins, nature, role, and future of France’s ancient aristocracy. To anyone even slightly acquainted with the literary works of the period, the characters that stand out most sharply are aristocrats, usually dissolute libertines like the vicomte de Valmont and the marquise de Merteuil.
The abbé Coyer, for instance, never argued for the utilitarian merits of commercial self-interest, far from it: he defined commerce as a patriotic and selfless pursuit, and argued that if nobles engaged in trade, they would merge more easily into the productive, hence virtuous, mainstream of the nation. 72 Many writers still looked to the nobility to carry the nation’s honor onto the battlefield, while prominent economists believed that France’s future depended on its peasantry and landed gentry.